Archive for November, 2010

Irish National Mountainbike XC Marathon Championships 2010

November 15, 2010

Mountain Bike Club Cork pulled off a great event in Ballyhoura in the form of the Irish National Mountainbike XC Marathon Championships. It was a calm, bright, but crisp cool 26 September that presented itself for the occasion. A 63km course, including 1560m altitude gain awaited the racers. Mike Jordan, mountain bike legend from the institution that is The Cycle Inn, provided team transport. Sign on, preparation, 11 o’clock roll out.

The first long opening fire road climb immediately forced a selection. Over the hill and down the far side, about half way down, I passed an unlucky rider lying in the ditch clutching a shoulder, one of the races two casualties with a collarbone fracture. The second casualty was to suffer a broken leg. While I did not suffer any injuries, my back tyre took more more than it could handle as I hammered down a steep rocky descent, resulting in a puncture. I attempted to re inflate the tubeless tyre, but due to some mud stuck inside the rim, the seal didn’t hold. Time for plan B: Convert to tube set-up.  Easy I thought to myself and whipped out a tube for the job, only to realise that what was written on the box, did not correspond to the tube inside! I walked to the next marshal point and luck swung back in my favour: The marshal had one last tube which he kindly gave me. Finally got the tyre back on, inflated it and was off again, but paid with a 40mins penalty for my unscheduled stop.

At this stage I was the lanterne rouge and due to the time loss had lost any motivation to fight on, since being realistic, it would not have amounted to  much. Nevertheless, I decided to enjoy the day for the ride that was in it, so continued to ride at a steady, yet not too strenuous pace. After a few hours, as I neared the finishing kilometres, it occurred to me that there were no more course markings. Not great form, clearing the course markers before the participants are finished, but I managed to find my way back to the finish nonetheless, or should I say where the finish had once been!

Mike had finished about two hours before, having stormed around with the top guys and was worried sick after hearing about the two casualties, thinking I may have been one of them, with every minute I remained absent. I even missed the prize presentation where Ryan Sherlock was crowned National Champion with Kate Elliot receiving the women’s title. While I didn’t end up finishing last, making back a handful of places along the way, I can’t boast about it being my most memorable ‘race’. When deducting my 40mins puncture repair from my finishing time, it placed me firmly where I would have liked to have finished. Moral of the story: If you want to do well, stick with what you’re best at, in my case shorter distances and make it all down hill while you’re at it!

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Epic Blast 2010

November 4, 2010

This can only be described as Ireland’s answer to the Megavalanche. The event has been held in Ballinastoe Woods every year in September since 2005. Organised by Richie Byrne the Godfather of Irish mountain biking from Club EpicMTB, Ireland’s premier dedicated mountain bike club, this has to be the event of all events in the Irish mountain bike calendar, to decide the the title of “Deadliest Mountain Biker in Ireland”. It turned out to be a soft Irish day, ensuring that those who thought they had made a mistake by skipping a day at the spa to get mud facials, were in fact well catered for in the healthy mud bath that ensued.

The past three years saw Niall Davis of Biking.ie notch up an impressive hat-trick of wins and was one of the hotly tipped favourites once again. Among other notables who turned up, were none other than DH/Freeride legend Glyn O’Brien of First Tracks, podium finisher in the 2003 legendary Red Bull Rampage freeride competition, certainly also a top rider never to be discounted.

Niall Davis (front right) and Glyn O'Brien (centre) happy with the day's racing.

Niall Davis (front right) and Glyn O’Brien (centre) happy with the day’s racing.

Racing was held in two separate formats. The morning saw heats of no more than 10 riders race each race each other with the afternoon dedicated to the main event, the mass start Epic Blast. The initial heat was to seed the racers into groups of similar ability, with all the winners racing each other in the second set of heats, all second placed riders against each other and so on. A poor start meant I had to battle my way up through the field. A collision with another rider on an overtaking manoeuvre didn’t help, but I was up as quickly as I had gone down and one by one I picked off the riders in my heat to emerge in the lead about 2/3 of the way down. A poorly marked junction led to me taking a wrong turn and off course and with that any chance of placing well in my heat. I was not the only one to do so, as on my return to the same junction, I crossed at least a dozen other riders coming against me one by one. I eventually made it down to finish in 7th in my heat. The bright side was I would have an easier second heat.

The second heat went well compared to the first one and I made a point of pulling what most people described as a spectacular crowd pleasing no-hander off one of the drop-offs, ending in a safely controlled dismount from the bike. In the end Niall Davis won the ‘winners’ heat, followed by Glyn O’Brien in second and Conor Campbell in third, but the real Blast was still to come.

 

After the exertions of nearly 4 days on the road with only a few hours sleep during the Race Around Ireland during the week, I was simply too exhausted to participate in the main “Blast” event, preferring instead to watch the action from the track side. In the end it was Greg Callaghan who battled his way down the slippery course to take a deserved win for the title of Ireland’s “Deadliest Mountain Biker”! Niall Davis followed by Glyn O’Brien claimed the two remaining podium spots.

Greg Callaghan getting the winner's mud special deluxe therapy to make the title of Ireland’s Deadliest Mountain Biker official!

Greg Callaghan getting the winner’s mud special deluxe therapy to make the title of Ireland’s Deadliest Mountain Biker official!

Race Around Ireland 2010 – Team Wheelworx/Boards.ie

November 3, 2010

rai logoThe second edition of the Race Around Ireland took place in the second week of September 2010. It is part of the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association (UMCA) World Cup series which includes other huge endurance races such as RAAM. The task was straightforward enough, yet certainly not easy: A non-stop 2100km ultra distance marked route anti-clockwise lap of Ireland. Solo riders and 2 man teams departed Navan on Sunday 12 september and had 132 hours to complete the race, with 4 man and 8 man teams leaving on Tuesday 14 September and having only 96 hours for the same task.

I had been asked only weeks before, if I would like to join Team Wheelworx/Boards.ie as a support crew member. I accepted the challenge without a moments hesitation. Along with a couple of riders from Swords CC, brothers Aidan and Peter Doyle, one from Orwell Wheelers CC, Tom Blennerhassett and Kevin Leavy (unattached), a total of 6 crew members joined the adventure. Click here for facebook page.

Chasing Peter down a seemingly endless road

Chasing Peter down a seemingly endless road

The full team assembled in Navan late Tuesday morning for sign on and race safety debriefing. Everything was ready to go and riders readied for the 20:00 start. In the early stages the Team settled into 2nd position on the road and would not relinquish this for the duration of the race. Things got interesting in the early hours travelling along the north coast of Ireland as the wind picked up considerably. By the time the riders reached Malin Head, the winds were blowing at gale force strength making progress difficult. The next challenge encountered was in Clifden around about midnight where an unintended delay during a change-over saw the 3rd placed team make significant gains and come within minutes of us. Thankfully this was the last they would sniff of our trail, as all the riders really put the hammer down and by the end of the night the team had pulled out an even bigger time gap than ever before.

I will not attempt to recount every detail of the adventure, yet one thing that has stayed with me since the trip is the the incredible scenery I witnessed along the way, as the route travelled through some of the most beautiful landscapes Ireland has to offer, so much of which I had never seen before.

Racing through the night

One of the biggest psychological hurdles was overcome as we reached the point where the journey turn in a northerly direction from Kilmore Quay and back up towards Navan. Although very tired from nearly three days of straight riding, this seemed to give the riders the necessary boost for one last drive towards the finish line. The Wicklow Mountains provided the ultimate test of the journey, but seemed to have little effect on the cyclists as they continued to deliver what can only be described as super human efforts.

Just before the arrival into Navan, all four riders saddled up to ride in unison and after 3days 5hrs 20mins crossed the finish line together, as a symbol of what had allowed them to achieve an incredible 2nd place overall: Ex unitate vires.

An exhausted, yet elated Team Wheelworx/Boards.ie after finishing 2nd overall.

An exhausted, yet elated Team Wheelworx/Boards.ie after finishing 2nd overall.

Third Coast Bicycle Festival including the 5th Annual Fixed Gear Symposium and the 3rd Annual Cherry-Roubaix Classic

November 1, 2010

The last weekend of August saw Annual Fixed Gear Symposium in it’s 5th edition and the Cherry-Roubaix Classic in its 3rd edition take place in and around Grand Traverse City, Michigan, USA as part of the Third Coast Bicycle Festival.

The programme involved a multitude of different disciplines making sure everyone had something to look forward to. A breakdown of the main events are detailed below.

– 27 August: Hill climb

The Hill Climb was held up Wayne Hill on Friday afternoon under the blistering sun, with local pro rider Larry Warbasse from team BMC (2009 World Road Race Champion Cadel Evans’s team mate) taking a commanding win as he stormed up to the top on his fixie, finishing over half a minute ahead of second place and setting a new hill record in the process. Marcus Bush took victory in the Men’s geared bike category.

Larry Warbasse (BMC) on his hill climb winning fixie

The woman’s victory in the fixed gear category went to Tracy Halsinski as she took her third straight win in as many years. Local rider Johanna Schmidt from Hagerty Cycling Team took 1st place in the geared  bike category.

Downtown Sprints

Friday evening witnessed a new event for the first time as part of the Cherry Roubaix Classic’s programme: Sprints in the form of drag races, i.e. standing start sprints. This proved to be a hugely popular event with both riders and spectators. Both geared and fixed wheel riders were catered for. The highlight of the event was without a doubt a local bicycle mechanic on his bmx who turned up to race against the swarm of lycra clad roadies. Not only did he handsomely hold his own, but he beat many of the riders he went up against, which was a huge crowd pleaser in every way.

DowntTown Sprints: Bmxer drops roadies from the gun

Event clip

– 28 August: Criterium

Saturday afternoon saw the first of the two big events of the 3rd Annual Cherry Roubaix Classic take place. A 1.22km (0.76ml) course through the old town, including cobbled sections like in the Paris-Roubaix, had been sectioned off and was to showcase the criterium race. This was also to prove a very spectator friendly event, as the riders would pass by frequently and often. The format was based around a set time rather than number of laps, plus one ultimate lap after the set time had elapsed. Larry Warbasse confirmed his status as pre-race favourite, firmly stamping his authority on the race. He took overall victory in the show topping Men’s Pro 1, 2 race, riding smart during the entire time before finally turning the screws and making the race winning move in the last lap to pull clear with his two podium standing adversaries who both finished barely a second behind, yet well ahead of the chasing pack.

Larry Warbasse (BMC) on his way to victory in the 2010 Cherry Roubaix Criterium (Mens Pro 1, 2)

– 29 August: Road race

The showdown was staged on Sunday with the road race tracing a 13.7 mile (22km) circuit over the rolling hills of Leelenau County, on a slightly altered version of the 12mile course used for the late 80s Michigan State Road Race. This time Larry Warbasse was a marked man from the gun, having to withstand one attack after another from every quarter. While in the end it proved too much due to the fact that he had no team mates to support him and was therefore racing alone against a plethora of well organised teams, he still finished in a very respectable 4th place.

However the real race I had come to watch was the Cat 4 Women’s one, staring one of the new 2010 stars to the Hagerty Cycling Team, Grand Traverse City local Barb Beauregard, along side her more seasoned team mate and climbing ace Bridgett Widrig. I would not be disappointed, as together they decimated the field, both simply riding away from the peleton from the first KOM, making it a superb display of dominance through positive team work and sealing a deserved and undisputed 1, 2 for Hagerty Cycling Team. Over four minutes separated them from the trailing 3rd place rider.

Bridgett Widrig and Barb Beauregard (Hagerty Cycling Team) following their impressive 1, 2 in the Women Cat 4 road race.